COUNTRY PROFILE

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

The massacre of more than 110 people, mostly Christians – including two priests and a pastor – at a Church-run displacement camp(1) highlighted the scale of the internal conflict afflicting the country. The attack in late 2018 was one of many acts of violence by ex-Séléka militia, which carried out attacks along sectarian lines. Muslim communities had also suffered, with reports of a “violent wave of ethnic cleansing”(2) in the west of the country.

» The attackers simply fired indiscriminately on the people «

Anti-balaka militia groups, formed to fight the ex-Séléka, were themselves implicated in civilian attacks. Bishop Juan José Aguirre Muñoz of Bangassou told ACN that foreign mercenaries entering CAR to raid its natural resources had further destabilised the situation.(3) A February 2019 peace deal between the government and 14 armed groups has already come under strain – with one former Séléka faction pulling out in March.(4)

1. “Attack on the Displaced Persons’ Camp in Alindao, Basse-Kotto Prefecture, on 15th November 2018: Breaches of International Humanitarian Law and Atrocity Crimes Committed by the UPC and anti-Balaka associated militias”, MINUSCA, 28th February 2019, https://minusca. unmissions.org/sites/default/files/minusca_human_rights_divisions_report_on_alindao.pdf (accessed 22nd July 2019).
2. “Central African Republic: Erased identity: Muslims in ethnically-cleansed areas of the Central African Republic”, Amnesty International, 31st July 2015, https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/afr19/2165/2015/en/ (accessed 22nd July 2019).
3. Aid to the Church in Need (International), 10th April 2019, https://acninternational.org/country/central-african-republic/ (accessed 22nd July 2019).
4. “Central African Republic peace deal under strain”, Business Day, 4th March 2019, https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/world/africa/2019-03-04-central-african-republic-peace-deal-under-strain/ (accessed 22nd July 2019).
5. Murcadha O Flaherty and John Newton, “Priest witnesses Church attack – at least 19 killed”, Aid to the Church in Need (UK) News, 3rd May 2018, https://acnuk.org/news/car-priest-witnesses-church-attack-at-least-19-killed/ ; “CAR: Catholic Priest killed in church attack”, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, 4th May 2018, https://www.csw.org.uk/2018/05/04/press/3956/article.htm (accessed 22nd July 2019).
6. “Attack on the Displaced Persons’ Camp in Alindao, Basse-Kotto Prefecture, on 15th November 2018: Breaches of International Humanitarian Law and Atrocity Crimes Committed by the UPC and anti-Balaka associated militias”, MINUSCA, https://minusca.unmissions.org/sites/default/files/minusca_human_rights_divisions_report_on_alindao.pdf (accessed 22nd July 2019).
7. Devin Watkins, “Pope recalls missionary sister killed in Central African Republic”, Vatican News, 22nd May 2019 https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-05/pope-francis-missionary-sister-killed-priest-mozambique.html ; John Burger, “European nun killed in Central African Republic, where she taught local girls”, Aleteia, 23rd May 2019, https://aleteia.org/2019/05/23/european-nun-killed-in-central-africanrepublic-where-she-taught-local-girls/; Rachel Russell, “Christianity crackdown: Horror after nun decapitated in brutal attack”, Daily Express, 1st June 2019, https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1134848/christianity-news-central-african-republic-nun-attack-catholic
(accessed 16th September 2019).

May 2018
At least 19 people including Father Albert Baba were killed and about 120 injured in an attack during Mass on 1st May at Our Lady of Fatima’s Church, Bangui. Parish priest Father Moses Otii said attackers “outnumbered the police and the police retreated. Then the attackers started shooting at the church and throwing hand grenades at the people.”(5)

November 2018
101 Christians and 11 Muslims were killed when an ex-Séléka group called the Union for Peace attacked a Church-run IDP camp in Alindao. Among those killed in the massacre on the 15th November were Pastor Gabriel Singa and two priests, Father Mada Blaise and Father Célestin Ngoumango. The camp, which sheltered over 26,000 people, was totally destroyed. Bishop Cyr-Nestor Yapaupa of Alindao said: “The old people and the handicapped were simply burned alive, if they were not already shot dead or beheaded. . . The attackers simply fired indiscriminately on the people.” UN troops allegedly colluded with militants.(6)

May 2019
The body of 77-year-old Sister Ines Nieves Sancho was found beheaded and mutilated in Nola, south-west CAR near the border with Chad. During the night of 19th-20th May, assailants entered her home and, dragging her to the workshop where she held sewing lessons for local girls, slit her throat. Ex-Séléka militants, calling themselves 3R, were blamed for the attack.(7)

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